Top Five Shoulder Holster Rigs

Shoulder holsters have been around for a long time, certainly before Sonny brought the Miami Classic into vogue in the 1980s series of Miami Vice. They are still a viable option for concealed carry, but with a few caveats.

Generally, you need just the right cover garment: not too tight, but not too loose. And, of course, that cover garment has to stay on. If your cover garment is a sport coat, you have to be careful to keep it gathered about you. A gust of wind or a raised arm can quickly reveal that you are armed. Further, do what you can to keep from touching other people. While guns and reloads reside under the arms and are generally out of reach from other people, even the shoulder straps can be felt if someone puts a hand on your back.

Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

Possibly the biggest advantage of a shoulder holster is the ability to carry guns of various shapes and sizes. Depending on the cover garment, they allow very fast access to the gun. Check out my top five shoulder rigs.

1. Galco VHS Shoulder System

The Galco VHS retails for $230. (Photo: Galco)

While Galco’s Miami Classic may be the more popular shoulder holster systems the company offers, I am highlighting the Vertical Holster System (VHS) because of the vertical orientation in which the gun is carried. This system carries the gun with the muzzle down.

While a properly holstered gun is generally as safe as safe can be, some people (including me) prefer to strictly follow the gun safety rule that says, “Don’t let the muzzle of point at anything you don’t want destroyed.” A horizontal holster points your gun directly behind you — at people and things you probably do not want destroyed. The advantage the vertically holstered gun is that it points in a safe direction.

With the Galco VHS, you enjoy premium steer hide, a wide harness and a swivel backplate. All those factors add up to durable, comfortable concealed carry. It can accommodate a revolver or auto-loading pistol and includes a magazine carrier or ammo dump pouch. It can also accept tie-downs for each side.

The Galco VHS Shoulder System retails for $230.00. For more information visit GalcoGunLeather.com.

2. Diamond D Simple Shoulder Rig

Diamond D Simple Rig retails for $220. (Photo: Diamond D)

Made in Alaska (where gear needs to be eminently functional and durable), the Diamond D Simple Shoulder Rig (SSR) also manages to be exceptionally comfortable and good-looking. Available for right- or left-handed shooters, the SSR gear can be tied down to your belt with adjustable straps. Included gear is a gun-specific holster and a double mag pouch. You can holster your revolver with this rig if that is your gun of choice.

With an autoloader, the holster is an open muzzle design and offers a snap thumb break. A tension screw allows you to adjust the draw effort. The leather is made from American saddle leather. The firm holster leather adds stability and security while the supple strap leather provides good comfort. Best of all, this rig can fit someone with up to a 58-inch chest.

Diamond D’s Simple Shoulder Rig retails for $220.00. For more information visit DiamondDCustomLeather.com.

3. Falco Roto Shoulder Holster

The Falco Roto has a retail price of $122.95. (Photo: Falco)

This holster provides an interesting twist on the vertical carry of a shoulder holster. Unsnapping the steel-reinforced thumb break allows the holster to tip forward for an easier draw. Made from hand-molded leather, the Falco Roto Shoulder Holster can be right- or left-handed and comes in mahogany, brown and black. A lacquered finish gives the leather a nice shine and smooth feel.

No clothing will get hung up on it, and it will not grab at any of your garments. Putting it on and adjusting it to your dimensions is simple too. The straps stay where you put them, and the rig moves well with your normal movements.

Roto comes with a five-year limited warranty and a retail price of $122.95.  For more information visit FalcoHolsters.com.

4. Black Hills Leather BH7S

The Black Hills BH7S retails for $139.95.  (Photo: Black Hills)

Shoulder holster systems made with premium leather, while exceptionally durable, can pose a unique challenge to someone who is looking to lighten the load. All that leather has mass and weight. Even when the weight is distributed evenly over the shoulders, carry rigs can literally be a drag after a long day. This is one of the costs of concealed carry, and we accept that.

But if you want to lighten up a bit with a shoulder rig, the Black Hills Leather BH7S does just that. It is a single shoulder rig that reduces the leather strapping by half. It is still a stable rig because the leather straps are balanced by an elastic strap. The holster features a thumb break and a molded sight channel, which is a very useful feature not only for protecting a sight, but also for easing the draw. A tension screw allows you to adjust the draw effort. It is available in black, dark chestnut and russet.

Retail price for the Black Hills Leather BH7S is $139.95.  For more information visit BlackHillsLeather.com.

5. Aker Comfort Flex Revolver Shoulder Holster

No price listed. Have to send an email to Aker. (Photo: Aker)

The Aker Comfort Flex Revolver Shoulder Holster offers a holster that is custom-molded to your revolver. The harness is designed to wrap around you comfortably, keeping the weight of the rig on your shoulders without riding up your back.

Moreover, the Comfort Flex fits up to a 62-inch chest, and the solid brass Chicago screws and plastic keepers will last a lifetime. The holster attaches to the rear strap at a point on the lower edge of the holster, a feature which helps maximize concealment.

Opposite the gun holster are a pair of speedloader pouches, which balance the rig out. Tie-downs are also available. No retail price is available because the product cannot be ordered online. Send an email to Aker to get one made. For more information visit AkerLeather.com.

Conclusion

Do you carry a gun in a shoulder holster? Let us know which one and what you think of it.

About the Author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Double Tap April 22, 2018, 10:45 am

    Boy, it’s difficult to find a concealment holster that doesn’t dig, claw, poke or otherwise try to do you bodily harm. After trying all kinds of different placements, cants, etc – it’s a shoulder rig for me. Now, trying to find the right shoulder holster – that’s the next issue. Leather looks wonderful, but is mucho expensive – and I gotta think can be hot/sweaty in the summer. Also, once strapped-up, I would hope to find one that does offer just the right amount of “give” so I don’t feel all bound-up like a straight jacket. Convertibility from vertical to horizontal carry would be great. For my sensitivities, I do have to have at least a level 2 of retention, but preferably a level 3. And to address the hot/sweaty issue, straps that would be wide enough for comfortable load-bearing while having the ability to breathe for cooling. So, still in search mode. Does anything fitting all this exist? Regards to all and be safe!

  • Mike G April 21, 2018, 3:47 pm

    Mitch Rosen Shoulder Holsters are the best I have ever had, worth the money and wait.

  • George W April 21, 2018, 7:26 am

    I carry my weapon at home in a shoulder rig. I have a Miami classic and love it.. I can be in most comfortable clothes or even pajamas and easily carry. When I go out I usually waist carry most recently with IWB. I started with a vertical carry for my ancient snub nose .38. It is worn out. Kinda miss it.

  • jrw April 21, 2018, 3:19 am

    I use a Galco Miami Classic when I carry my 1911s or my Glock 34 or 35.

  • Ron P April 21, 2018, 12:59 am

    I’ve been using Nulls shoulder holsters exclusively for a number of years now and have been more than happy with them. I have three different holsters for my S&W J frame, Glock 36, and (most often) my older Walther PPS. I really like the minimal, light weight of the rigs and as I don’t wear a belt, this rig seems to accommodate me a bit better.

    I prefer to carry with the gun in a vertical position as even though the horizontals are safe, it just bugs me that I’m always sweeping someone with the muzzle. The muzzle down in the Miami Vice type rigs is okay but drawing the gun can be a bit problematic depending on your situation. The Nulls rigs use a unique barrel up orientation that I find works well for me. I highly recommend you check them out – http://www.klnullholsters.com

    FWIW I’m not associated with Nulls in any way shape or form I just found his holsters to be unique and useful for how I carry.

    -Ron

  • Chris Greene April 20, 2018, 5:12 pm

    Ken Null makes a unique and extremely comfortable rig. The dual rigs are amazing. He has been making these for ops guys for 50 years. The butt down configuration is very concealsbleand comfortable. He can make them for most any model.

  • BRASS April 20, 2018, 2:40 pm

    Other than military issue Bianchi shoulder rigs for the Berretta M9A1 and military issue leather chest rigs for 1911s, I’ve not had any experience. I liked using the chest rig best but it’s not practical for civilian concealed carry. Great for hunting or duty but not concealed, at least in the hot climate I live in. I’d like to use a lightwieght small shoulder rig during the cooler months (only two really) but I double it’s worth it.
    What I’m looking for is a good, thin pocket type holster to use with shirts like the 511 that have chest pockets built in, in a shirt that won’t sag too much on one side for those times when pants pocket carry is not possible. Most pocket holsters I’ve tried move around in the shirt chest pocket or don’t fit well.

  • Rich C. April 20, 2018, 12:58 pm

    I still have a leather Galco shoulder rig I bought along with my Gen 2 Glock M22 over 27 years ago. It is one of the most comfortable shoulder rigs I’ve ever worn. I only use it during the cold months when I can wear a flannel shirt or jacket over it. The rig only cost me 69 bucks at the time….I got sticker shock when I see how much they cost these days!

  • Tom Ridley April 20, 2018, 12:56 pm

    I have two that I use, a Galco Miami Classic for my 1911 and a Bianchi X15 for my Gloack 20

  • Douglas Folsom April 20, 2018, 11:21 am

    I have a shoulder holster but have mostly quit using it because I don’t like that it is always pointed at someone. Also, I hardly ever wear clothes that would conceal it.

  • richard sharpe April 20, 2018, 11:13 am

    i use a mitch rosen ESP-EXP for a glock 26/ i actually forget it’s there

  • Peter Kenny April 20, 2018, 9:13 am

    I just had a custom 2 gun shoulder rig made for my 2 S&W Shields. Adams custom Gunleather out of Channing MI.
    I have had approx. 6 shoulder holsters through the years, nothing as nice and comfortable as this one. Awesome rig and workmanship is top notch.
    PK

  • Tony April 20, 2018, 7:16 am

    I use the Aker 101 model that you showed in your article for my compact 1911. It’s very comfortable for me. I would like to point out that their prices are on their website, you can find them if you search the site for a specific firearm rather than just looking at the holsters. $148 for the 101. Also, tie down straps are an option.

  • Nicholas Viccione April 20, 2018, 6:41 am

    Docs Say it`s better for Your Back . More comfortable in car and on Motorcycle .

  • Larry April 20, 2018, 5:52 am

    I have a Stormer rig from StonerHosters with 2 different pistols accommodated.Custom for an optic and a laser.
    Pricey,but they work.And you can talk to someone.Quality workmanship and material.IMO

  • DaveP. April 20, 2018, 3:35 am

    I used to carry a 1911 in a Bianchi X15, one of my favorite holsters ever. I can’t for the life of me say why it isn’t on your list, as it’s one of the few comfortable ways to conceal a full size handgun. I’ve also worn a Famous Jackass shoulder rig with a 2″ Security Six… and it pressed right on a nerve in my shoulder and hurt so bad I never could wear it for more than an hour or so. Shoulder holsters are a little funny: if you get a good one and fit it right they can be very comfortable; the wrong model and badly adjusted and it turns into a torture device.

  • Jeff April 20, 2018, 3:05 am

    The best shoulder holsters are at: http://www.cochiseleather.com/leather-shoulder-holsters.aspx

    Sturdy, comfortable, and quite affordable.

  • Mark N. April 20, 2018, 1:17 am

    The main drawback to a holster like the Black Hills is that there isn’t an offside tie-down or mag holder to balance the weight of the gun, and they cause a significant amount of fatigue. Kirkpatrick Leather came out with a rig similar to this one, the big difference being that the holster itself can be removed from the rig to become an OWB holster. Two for the price of one! ($170.) Without the douoble holster it is $140. I have one Kirkpatrick pancake, and it is a very well made and well molded holster.

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